posted by Jiri Wagner
The U.S. Army's aviation modernization plan has as its centerpiece the Boeing-Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche armed reconnaissance helicopter. The aviation plan reflects the Army's new post-Cold War strategy to react to regional conflicts by using fewer personnel and long-range, self-deployable aircraft based in the continental United States.
The Comanche is a twin-turbine, two-seat (tandem) armed reconnaissance helicopter with projected missions of armed reconnaissance, light attack and air combat. Initial operating capability is set for the year 2006.
It will replace obsolete AH-1 and OH-58 attack and observation helicopters. The Comanche has capabilities demanded of a smaller force structure, such as: improved mobility, increased survivability and dramatically reduced operation and support costs. Initial operating capability is set for the year 2006.
Emphasis of the demonstration/validation program is to prove all critical components. These include mission equipment avionics and a growth version of the Comanches T800 engine. Two prototype aircraft are being built. The Defense Departments Defense Acquisition Board has approved an early operational capability program that will provide for six additional aircraft, manufactured in 2001, for U.S. Army operational testing.
The Comanches most significant systems and features include:
|Primary function||Armed reconnaissance helicopter|
|Contractor||Boeing Vertol Company/ Sikorsky Aircraft Division|
|Power plant||Two LHTEC T800-LHT-801 turboshaft engines|
|Thrust||2x 1,432 HP||2x 1,068 kW|
|Length of fuselage||40.3 ft||13.22 m|
|Main rotor diameter||39 ft||11.9 m|
|Width of fuselage||6.7 ft||2.04 m|
|Max. takeoff weight||12,829 lb||5,819 kg|
|Max. speed||201 mph||324 km/h|
|Max. range||1,450 miles||2,334 km|
|Crew||Two (pilot, co-pilot - weapon operator)|
|Armament||20mm three-barrel cannon Lockheed Martin Vulcan II (magazine capacity 500), missiles inside doors of weapons bays three AGM-114 Hellfire or six FIM-92 Stinger missiles. Possible mounting of next pylons for 2x4 Hellfire or 2x8 Stingeror external fuel tanks. Possible also TOW II, Starstreak, Hydra, Matra Mistral, Oerlikon Snora, Sura D 81mm or Euromissile Hot II missiles.|
|Unit cost||Approximately $7.5 million|
|Date of first flight||January 4, 1996|